The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — a cap-and-trade program designed to limit power plant emissions in 10 Northeastern states — has been under close scrutiny in recent months as a result of lawsuits in New Jersey and New York, and legislation in New Hampshire. Each of these developments demonstrates the polarization and controversy that continue to surround greenhouse gas regulation, and RGGI in particular, years after the regional trading program first took effect.
Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz Supports Carbon Tax
July 13, 2012 06:23 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM
Former Secretary of State George Shultz is calling for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, according to an interview released today by Stanford University. Shultz, who served as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan as well as a number of other roles under previous Republican administrations, is heading up the Hoover Institution's Task Force on Energy Policy will calls for boosting energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil exports to improve national security, and putting a price on carbon. While the last of those objectives has been an anathema to many Republicans of late, Shultz said his party could eventually support a carbon tax.
The Dead Sea is Dying - Really!
July 12, 2012 04:36 PM - dave levitan, Yale Environment360
On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year. The sinkholes are among the most visible effects of the continuing slow "death" of the Dead Sea, which borders Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. Thousands of sinkholes have opened up around the Dead Sea's coastal plain, threatening roads and structures alike. Near this particular sinkhole, a grove of date palms sat withered and dead, abandoned because of the dangerous ground on which they stood.On a quiet stretch of coastline along the western shore of the Dead Sea, a sinkhole had swallowed a piece of a road, pulling in concrete and rusted fence posts. The sea lay a short distance beyond, its turquoise-colored waters dropping at the rate of more than one meter a year.
Asian Carp in the Great Lakes
July 12, 2012 04:02 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There have been many invasions of foreign species into new territories. Asian carp may pose substantial environmental risk to the Great Lakes if they become established there, according to a bi-national Canadian and United States risk assessment released today. Bighead and silver carps -- two species of Asian carp -- pose an environmental risk to the Great Lakes within 20 years, with the risk increasing over time. Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie face the highest risk relative to the other lakes. The new risk assessment report was led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and included a team of scientists from Canada and the United States. Two U.S. Geological Survey scientists were among the co-authors of the report.
Indonesian authorities are failing to take action against a palm oil company that is operating illegally in Central Kalimantan, alleges a new report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak. The report, published Thursday, says that authorities have failed to conduct a criminal investigation into the illegal conversion of more than 23,000 hectares of peatland and peat forest by PT SCP, part of the BEST Group, despite being provided with "sufficient evidence" to do so. EIA and Telapak say the dossier detailed PT SCP's violations of laws governing "land allocation, access to resources and environmental management."
EU considering requiring lower CO2 emissions on new cars
July 12, 2012 10:06 AM - EurActive
New cars and vans in the European Union will produce one-third less carbon dioxide within eight years, under proposed new rules set out on Wednesday (11 July) in Brussels. By 2020, the average emissions from new cars will have to be no more than 95g of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, a cut of more than 40g from today's levels and of 35g/km compared with the 2015 target, if the proposed new regulations are accepted. Connie Hedegaard, climate chief of the European commission, said the goals were "ambitious but achievable" and would benefit consumers, through fuel cost savings, and help the EU's car-making industry compete with overseas manufacturers. She said: "What we are proposing is a fair and balanced regulation."
Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion
July 11, 2012 10:01 AM - Cameron Scherer, Worldwatch Institute
Although most analysts assume that the world’s population will rise from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, it is quite possible that humanity will never reach this population size, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman argues in the book State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity. In the chapter "Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion," Engelman outlines a series of steps and initiatives that would all but guarantee declines in birthrates—based purely on the intention of women around the world to have small families or no children at all—that would end population growth before mid-century at fewer than 9 billion people. "Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so," Engelman writes. Examples from around the world demonstrate effective policies that not only reduce birth rates, but also respect the reproductive aspirations of parents and support an educated and economically active society that promotes the health of women and girls. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.
Egypt's Plans for Science
July 11, 2012 06:48 AM - Hazem Badr, SciDevNet
Egypt's newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has ambitious plans for science and is committed to linking research to local needs and boosting private sector science funding, officials say. "Morsi's main strategy is to 'localise' science," Mohamed Sharet, deputy director of the Education and Scientific Research Committee at the Egyptian parliament's lower house, and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), told SciDev.Net. This will require engaging researchers in solving public problems and linking science closely to the needs of local industry.
Long term temperature record reconstructed
July 10, 2012 06:36 AM - EurekAlert from Johannes Gutenberg University
Long term calculations prepared by Mainz scientists will influence the way current climate change is perceived. This important study is published in Nature Climate Change. An international team that includes scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has published a reconstruction of the climate in northern Europe over the last 2,000 years based on the information provided by tree-rings. Professor Dr. Jan Esper's group at the Institute of Geography at JGU used tree-ring density measurements from sub-fossil pine trees originating from Finnish Lapland to produce a reconstruction reaching back to 138 BC. In so doing, the researchers have been able for the first time to precisely demonstrate that the long-term trend over the past two millennia has been towards climatic cooling. "We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low," says Esper. "Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy, as they will influence the way today's climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods." The new study has been published in the journal "Nature Climate Change".
Boreal Forest Conservation Spreads Throughout Ontario
July 9, 2012 01:57 PM - Editor, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
Forest company and conservation group signatories to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) welcome Ontario's support today of their approach and joint recommendations on an action plan for an area of the province’s boreal forest almost five times the size of Metro Toronto. The action plan recommendations aim to secure the future of the 3 million hectares of caribou range in the Abitibi River Forest to conserve Boreal woodland caribou and maintain hundreds of jobs in forestry. The proposed approach and recommendations are intended to produce over 800,000 hectares of critical habitat for Boreal woodland caribou that would be excluded from harvest. The remaining 2.2 million hectares would remain open to forestry, with high standards of sustainable forest practices in place to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems. "This proposed breakthrough plan for the Abitibi River Forest underscores that prosperity and conservation go hand-in-hand by recognizing that conservation is not at the expense of economic prosperity, but complementary to it. It is also a testament to the collective efforts of the environmental groups and companies that have been able to find common ground" said Janet Sumner, executive director of CPAWS-Wildlands League, one of Canada's leading conservation groups.